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September 14, 2008

Australian institute launches faculty system

Australia’s National Institute of Accountants (NIA) is establishing a faculty system to better utilise the expertise within its membership base and draw on external expertise to identify and respond to local and global issues in the accounting profession.

Four faculties have already been launched, specialising in the areas of accounting education, small business, taxation and the public sector. They will be joined in the coming months by faculties of accounting regulation, financial services and corporate governance.

The chairs for the first four faculties have been appointed from among industry figures in the respective fields, each will be invited to serve a three-year term.

Beverley Jackling, from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, will chair the accounting education faculty; Jean Raar, from Swinburne University, will chair the faculty of small business; Lance Cunningham, from PKF Australia, will chair the faculty of taxation; and Tyrone Carlin of the Macquarie Graduate School of Management will chair the public sector faculty.

The chairs of the remaining three faculties are due to be named soon.

Education statement

NIA president Roger Cotton told The Accountant the concept behind the faculties is something the institute has been looking at for four to five years, although the initial idea was to have centres of excellence.

“After looking at international models, we started to modify our initial thoughts,” he said. k

“We see the concept of a faculty as having the advantage of reinforcing the notion of the NIA as an education institution, and as an authoritative statement of our role in the accounting profession by differentiating the NIA from the other professional bodies not only in Australia, but offshore as well.”

The faculties are designed to respond to emerging issues in the Australian and Asia-Pacific accounting professions specifically, and monitor and respond to global developments affecting the accounting profession overall.

“We hope they will provide strategic technical and thought leadership on a range of issues affecting the profession, evaluate policy issues to assist the NIA in representation to government and to the standard setters and other stakeholders throughout the region,” Cotton said.

“I think they will, in effect, be the underpinning technical strength and foundation of the NIA in their respective fields of expertise.”

The institute’s objective is to eventually enable both members and non-members to subscribe to become members of one or more of the NIA faculties, Cotton explained.

“Effectively what we are looking for is seven faculties in all, with independent chairs for each of them, and then having a range of people, not necessarily all members, participating in the discussions, the debates and ultimately the outcomes of the faculties,” he said.

Cotton said that while there was internal discussion and research among members before the faculty areas were decided on, each area was quite topical and an obvious choice: “For example taxation, that’s pretty well on everybody’s lips,” he explained.

“Financial services is a growing business all across the world and it needs even greater cohesion and understanding in order to set in place the templates for codes of ethics and disciplinary process and education.”

Each year the NIA holds a comprehensive external strategic meeting to evaluate its position and direction. At the most recent meeting, the institute compiled a range of key strategies on the objectives and outcomes for each faculty.

“But ultimately I think the whole idea of having independent chairs is to have them work with their groups, within the framework of the overall NIA strategies. We want to give them room to develop their own strategies and their own business planning,” Cotton said.

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